Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It Wasn't Scary

Tablets are all the rage these days.  Seems like a year ago (it was) that the pundits were predicting the market failure of the iPad.  It was just an oversized iPod Touch, wasn't anything more than an interesting toy, and certainly wasn't going to be of interest to corporate types.  How could they be so wrong?  Every other tablet introduced crashed and burned.  They missed the biggest selling feature this time, staring right at them, that wasn't there before.

It wasn't scary.

Take the average person and put them in front of a computer.  Most are scared to death and refuse to touch the keyboard in fear that they might break something.  Put an iPad in their hands and seconds later they're tapping and sliding and laughing.  Most will play for several minutes, ignoring guests and its rightful owner, as they discover this and that cool feature.  I've seen construction workers waiting to take their turn and grandma's sliding pictures with their pinkies.  And smiling all the while.

Why such a difference?  Computers and iPads both have processors, memory, an operating system and icons.  Under the covers, they are basically the same.  But we humans fear complex things and proceed with caution, using our basic survival skills that serve us well, day in and day out.

The typical computer is a big machine and goes through several minutes of whirling and clicking before it's ready to use.  It has a mouse that moves a pointer and two buttons that do different things in different situations.   It has a keyboard with somewhere around one hundred keys, many of which have multiple purposes elicited by holding shift, alt, ctrl, fn or a small four-part flag.  It most likely has a dozen or more lights and a dozen or so ports of different shapes and sizes.  You need to patch, you need A/V, you need anti-this and anti-that.  And most of all, you need to be frightened.

Contrast that with the iPad, which is just shy the size of a piece of 8.5 by 11 inch paper and weighs in at 1.5 pounds, turns on instantly, has four buttons each which you can figure out in less than a second each and the same connector you use on your iPhone and iPods.  You turn, it turns.  You touch, it reacts.  Can't open it up, don't need anti-anything and has a nice "upgrade all" feature.  You bring yours, I'll bring mine.  Let's do coffee and a game.  And not be scared.

That's my belief in what is driving consumers and business people to adopt tablets at a record pace.  You can't employ the typical fear, uncertainty and doubt to slow this down. 

We're not scared anymore.


Chip Overclock said...

The big win of the tablet, and of the smartphone as well, is that it has a limited user interface when compared to a PC. It's designed not as a universal tool, but as an appliance. People understand appliances. The late Ma Overclock understood appliances, despite having been born in 1919. Appliances are hard to screw up. Despite my having two degrees in computer science, or maybe because of them, I find the typical PC all too easy to screw up. My iPad will never replace my beloved MacBook Air. But it serves just fine for me to sit at Starbucks, and comment on your blog, just as I am doing right now.

Three cheers for appliances!

Paul Moorman said...

Strange, but I think it's the laptop that has the limited user interface, since they usually are not touch devices. I guess that will either be proven or not as applications become touch-enabled. I can see a program like Visio being a killer touch-app. Add voice recognition to a touch-app and I might never go back.